As a website owner, isn’t is exhilarating to see a growth in incoming traffic? Sure it is! We all have experienced it! However, when your site begins to gain traction, spam isn’t the nicest thing you enjoy. Heck, it’s one of the most unpleasant things you must tend to!
The moment your website starts getting a decent amount of traffic, a host of unwelcome spammers join the party. And most of these spammers are automated spam bots.
How bad could this be, you ask?
Well, let’s see. First off, if you don’t moderate comments (i.e. all comments are directly published without an approval) then your posts and pages will be filled with tons irrelevant content (spam). This will ultimately reduce your SEO score – all thanks to automated spam bots.
If you decide to manually moderate each and every comment, checking them for spam and authenticity, well, you’re going to need a lot of time. This technique has another disadvantage. Apart from requiring significant human effort, your WordPress database keeps getting filled with spam comments. This weighs down your database and makes it slow.
Of course we have a number of solutions for this problem. This article enlists the best anti-spam WordPress plugins. You can choose any one of them (make sure you go through their features first) and enjoy the pleasures of hassle-free comment moderation.
We’ll begin with the simplest of WordPress plugins.
Developed by Automattic – the company behind WordPress, this is one of the most popular cloud-based and free anti-spam plugins ever developed for WordPress. Akismet employs a web service powered by cloud servers which evaluates comments for spam. First you need to connect to the cloud service using an API key which can be obtained by registering for the service.
A couple of comments blocked by Akismet
The plugin uploads all incoming comments to the Akismet’s cloud servers, wherein highly specialized algorithms are run to evaluate the validity of the comment. Some are caught red handed and shifted to the spam queue. The squeaky clean ones are directly moderated and published. If in case Akismet gets stuck, i.e. it can’t decide for good whether a particular plugin is spam or not, it moves the comment to the moderation queue.
Akismet is free for personal and non-commercial use with a limit of 50,000 comment checks a month. The paid plans start from $5 USD a month – which is a pretty sweet deal for spam. It also seamlessly integrates with the Jetpack and Contact Form 7 plugin.
2. Anti-Spam by CleanTalk – No Captcha, no Comments & Registrations Spam
CleanTalk is a premium cloud-based antispam plugin for WordPress which blocks spam comments, spam bot signups and trackbacks.
The plugin works very similar to Akismet where the incoming comments are uploaded to CleanTalk’s cloud servers which where they go multiple validation checks. Depending on the results, the comments are then moved to the spam queue or are approved and published.
Cloud-based protection options from CleanTalk
The plugin maintains advanced statistics of blocked spam comments and a spam comment log. It also supports a long list of third-party plugin compatibility such as W3 Total Cache, Jetpack, Contact From 7, WooCommerce, BuddyPress, bbPress and WP-Members.
It offers a 14 day free trial, after which a commercial license costs $8/year for a single website.
WangGuard is another cloud based anti-spam plugins with tons of amazing spam validators. Similar to Akismet, you need to connect to the service using an API key and the rest follows.
Sample comments blocked by Wanguard
The basic usage of the plugin is free for up to 5000 daily comment checks, while the premium one has varying degrees of pricing. WangGuard also offers some awesome add-ons such as MailPoet Connector, Blacklisted Words and others.
4. Anti-Spam Bee
Anti-Spam Bee is a completely free WordPress plugin for both personal and commercial use. Unlike Akismet, Anti-Spam Bee plugin it does not require user registration. However, this plugin does not use cloud-powered spam detection algorithms. It relies on server-side techniques such as matching it against a public spam database, validating the IP address of commenters, using regular expressions, trusting commenters with Gravatar as non-spammers, etc.
Host of options offered by Anti-spam Bee
It also clears the WordPress database of previously stored spam every few days and hence prevents it from slowing down. The plugin also displays spam statistics, and emails the moderators of daily spam blockage statistics.
5. WP-SpamShield Anti-Spam
Even if a few insanely clever bots manage to evade the plugins first line of defence, the second layer – called the Algorithmic Anti-Spam Layer – uses over a hundred spam detection algorithms which checks the comment for spam. In short, only the smartest spam on earth might be able to evade this plugin. For all practical purposes – you’re good.
List of options – they’re too many number to list in one page!
Not only that, this plugin also blocks registration spam, trackback spam and spam on contact forms. It integrates with multiple services such as Contact Form 7, Gravity Forms, bbPress, WooCommerce and WP-Members.
6. WordPress Zero Spam
This is a completely free anti-spam WordPress plugin which is built based on a concept developed by Mozilla founder David Walsh.
An overview of settings from WordPress Zero Spam
The plugin plays on a very basic assumption that any comment that isn’t spam, must be typed from a valid – even the most basic – web browser. It could be either a mobile or desktop version. The plugin employs a clever server and client-side comment validation technique that nips the spam bots at the bud!
The plugin also integrates with popular plugins like Gravity Forms, Ninja Forms and BuddyPress.
7. Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin
Growmap Anti Spambot (GASP) is a free plugin which inhibits spam bots by adding dynamically generated named fields to comment form.
The plugin’s settings page
The plugin adds a client-side generated checkbox to the WordPress comment box which the users much check to confirm that they are not a spammer.
8. WPBruiser no-Captcha anti-Spam
According to the plugin’s page –
“WPBruiser (formerly GoodBye Captcha) is an anti-spam and security plugin is based on algorithms that identify spam bots without any annoying and hard to read captcha images.”
The developer claims that the plugin does not display any captchas or common validation mechanisms to the visitor. The plugin does not let spam enter your WordPress site.
Now this would pose a certain risk – what happens when the plugin is wrong? For example, if the plugin reports a false positive, i.e. if it detects a valid comment as spam, then that comment never enters your WordPress site – and you never get to see it. Unlike other plugins, where the copy of the comment would be present in your spam queue.
Update on 16 Feb 2016: Mihai was kind enough to clarify this for us. He says that the plugin offers the possibility to log all blocked content for any form that it protects.
- In the Settings tab there is an option – “Keep Blocked Submitted Content For” which defaults to 10 days. Any blocked content older than this value will be automatically deleted. Of course, this value can be changed by the admin. By settings the value to zero days, the plugin will not log blocked attempts content.
- One can also see every request information that was blocked. Simply go to Reports tab and for each blocked attempt you have an option “View Blocked Content”. Click on that and you’ll see the formatted blocked attempt.
Thanks for pointing this out Mihai! ?
General Settings page of WPBruiser
This is a slight disadvantage. If you are willing to take this small risk, then Goodbye Captcha is a great choice. This plugin integrates with the WordPress login and registration page apart from the comment form. It also has features like IP blacklisting, optional logging, statistics and report generation and is compatible with a host of third-party plugins.
9. Stop Spammers Spam Prevention
This plugin is yet another awesome server and client-side anti-spam WordPress plugin with over twenty different checks for spam comments. The plugin also prevents login page spam and has over 12 pages of options for heavy user customization.
One of the many settings page in this plugin
In cases where spam is detected, users are offered a second chance to post their comments or login. In such cases, a captcha challenge is presented to the user, upon solving which the comment is accepted. The plugin supports Google reCaptcha, OpenCaptcha and SolveMedia Captcha as the captcha challenge services.
10. WP-SpamFree Anti-Spam
The final plugin in our list, WP-SpamFree Anti-Spam works invisibly in the background and eliminates blog comment spam, including trackback and pingback spam.
WP-SpamFree’s Settings Page
The plugin features a blacklist filter, where any comment containing the blacklisted keyword will be directly sent to the spam queue. This is especially useful for preventing competitor keywords from appearing in your website.
As a WordPress site owner, I think the choice of picking the right anti-spam WordPress plugin depends on the characteristics of the traffic you’re receiving.
If you are mostly publishing “list type” articles, then chances are that your visitors will be suggesting new/different products in the list. This might be construed as advertising spam by the anti-spam algorithms, moving such valid comments directly to the spam queue. Therefore I would recommend going through the spam queue if the number isn’t so high.
In my opinion, if you have moderate amount of traffic, active/recurring/inquisitive comments, then the local solution would do just fine. If you are absolutely new to WordPress, Akismet is your best bet. However, if you run a typical viral site, then a cloud based solution like Akismet or WangGuard would be awesome.
You can also follow these tips to keep your website clean from unnecessary files. database entires and more. Keeping your website clean allow will improve your website loads speed. For more information about WordPress performance make sure to read this guide.
Have we missed your favourite anti-spam WordPress plugin? Let us know and we’ll add it to our list! Thanks for reading!